Research Article

Geological Setting and Age of Australopithecus sediba from Southern Africa

Science  09 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5975, pp. 205-208
DOI: 10.1126/science.1184950

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Abstract

We describe the geological, geochronological, geomorphological, and faunal context of the Malapa site and the fossils of Australopithecus sediba. The hominins occur with a macrofauna assemblage that existed in Africa between 2.36 and 1.50 million years ago (Ma). The fossils are encased in water-laid, clastic sediments that were deposited along the lower parts of what is now a deeply eroded cave system, immediately above a flowstone layer with a U-Pb date of 2.026 ± 0.021 Ma. The flowstone has a reversed paleomagnetic signature and the overlying hominin-bearing sediments are of normal polarity, indicating deposition during the 1.95- to 1.78-Ma Olduvai Subchron. The two hominin specimens were buried together in a single debris flow that lithified soon after deposition in a phreatic environment inaccessible to scavengers.

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